Many people enjoy cooking. Some might even consider themselves "chefs". I think my husband is a chef - he can create amazingly flavorful dinners out of the most exotic blend of ingredients. He considers himself a "cook" while I consider myself a "baker". But I realized that's not really accurate either. I mean, my cakes are always lopsided and mereingue scares the crap out of me. So, I'm not really a baker either. What I am is a "maker of food".
This is a special category of individuals who make food because it's necessary, because they are inspired to use up the last shreds of leftovers in the back of the fridge and because they are unnaturally attracted to magazines and cookbooks featuring photos of adorable monkey cupcakes that they will never make (but they'll buy the book anyway, because maybe....someday...). Or maybe that's just me.
But here's the thing. I actually enjoy making and eating little hot dogs rolled up in crescent rolls, or the creation I made tonight - tortillas spread with peanut butter and nutella, bananas and walnuts and "fried" in a little butter (or Smart Balance, I try to be healthy when I can!). I absolutely love my Tupperware that has lots of little sections - it's like a challenge to find something different and interesting for each section. I love to make up trays of crackers and cheese, fruit and veggie platters, assortments of sweet treats. Basically, I love appetizers!
We sometimes have a dinner we like to call "Feast". This is just an assortment of fun finger foods - usually just stuff found in the fridge, maybe, if I plan ahead, a shrimp platter or special dessert. I love the idea of having multiple things to choose from, a little bit of each. It's like the best of everything in bite-size! Frankly, I think my kids eat more fruits and veggies on the nights we have Feast. It's just more fun and there might even be some caramel to dip the apples in or ranch for the baby carrots.
Some people might find some type of satisfaction or pride in carting a steamy roast to the table on a platter. This freaks me out. Having to make a meal where all the "parts" are done at the same time is TOO HARD! Thanksgiving dinner is my biggest challenge, and I don't do such a bad job, but for cryin' out loud, I need a few months to recover after that feat! I can make a pretty good lasagne, throw together a ceasar salad and put some store bought garlic bread in the oven in a pinch, but why? Now that I've married a "chef" the fancy dinner footwork is done for me.
We share dinner duties around here, but often, as of late, dinner duty falls to me, and so I get creative. Which, for me, means "fun" food. Sure, I'll do the meat/starch/veggie combo from time to time, but the other night when I made pigs in a blanket and set out baby carrots and grapes, the kids ate more than they have in ages. Because, let's face it, those things are damn good!
When my kids were little, I didn't just cart around the boring old snack bag of Cheerios. No siree! I made peanut butter and jelly roll ups and cut them in slices, sushi-style. I made "antipasto" - cut up string cheese and olives. I hoarded magazines with pictures of fun food. From them, I once made octopus on seaweed - a hot dog cut halfway through in "slices" boiled so the tendrils would curl, to which I affixed mustard "eyes" and set upon a bed of seaweed (ramen noodles died with green food coloring). Who cares if my kids were almost teenagers when I made it? It was FUN!!
I had a blast making cakes for my kids' birthdays and other occasions. Now that Hayley is older, she's taken over as resident baker of the family so I don't make too many cakes anymore (besides they're lopsided, remember?). But oh, the glory days! I made a Barbie cake so detailed with saccharine goodness it practically gave you a toothache to look at it. Barbie gloriously presided over a garden of green frosted cake, surrounded by real, tiny white picket fence, decorated with candy "rocks" and gummy frogs. I made a cake for a spa party once in the shape of a face, complete with green face mask and cucumber slices over the eyes. For a school cake walk, Hayley and I worked together on a sleepover cake - tiny Twinkie girls all snuggled in their respective fruit leather sleeping bags. I'm gettin' a little teary-eyed just thinking about those days.....
But that's the point of food. It should be fun and shared with people you love. I love me a good potluck like nobody's business. Bring on the jello salad! Bring on the Dorito casserole! Bright, pretty colors, layered goodness, fluffy deliciousness..........fun food is just GOOD! Now, go and whip yourself up some fruit kebabs or homemade fudgesicles. You know you want to!